How does a lizard shed its tail?

 Just as some people “lose their heads” from sheer  stress , so many lizards can lose their tails in dangerous situations. If lizards are threatened by attackers, they simply throw them off. The tail continues to move for up to 20 minutes through active nerves and muscles, distracting the enemy from their actual prey. In the meantime, the lizard is able to escape and get to safety.

But how exactly does shedding work?

The animals have so-called predetermined breaking points in the tail vertebrae. At these fracture points, the connective and muscle tissue is weaker. In this way, the animal can rid itself of its tail with a short, strong contraction of the ring muscles. The fracture points are from the sixth vertebra down. This allows the lizard to cut off its tail to any length. The tail grows back because the reptile needs it for energy storage and locomotion. What sounds like an ingenious trick of nature also has its disadvantages.

The tail of the lizard is usually colorful and conspicuous. However, the regrowing piece does not match this splendor. The male lizard in particular has to put up with the downside. A lower social status and mating disadvantages result for the male. In contrast to the “original”, the tail that has grown back only has an unjointed cartilage rod inside, and it no longer has any predetermined breaking points. In case of danger, the lizard can only cut off its tail at higher vertebrae.

In addition, in the tail regeneration phase, the animal is less mobile, so it risks falling victim to enemies.


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